|Review: Battlelore - Sword's Song|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2003
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 29, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
A few years ago, to be as geekily devoted to Tolkien as these guys are would have seemed crack smokery of the first order. But now that the film series is rumbling towards its conclusion, Battlelore seem almost hip. This is the second album of Elf-worship from this Finnish outfit, and as easy as it would be to make fun of them, I love this CD too much to take too many more cheap shots.
If you were to cross Nightwish's "Oceanborn" with Bal-Sagoth's "Battle Magic" you'd get. . . a pretty cool album as it turns out. On first listen Battlelore's mix of Nightwishy keyboard-laced melodic metal with heavy, chunky riffs and growling seems downright weird, but that doesn't last long, and soon the quality of the songwriting will make a believer out of you. Standouts like the title cut, "Buccaneer's Inn", "The War Of Wrath" and "Forked Height" successfully mix smooth female vocals with aggressive riffing, growling male vox, and some extremely catchy melodies. The whole is a very Finnish, but very distinct sound, and I cannot really say I have ever heard another band that sounds remotely like them. Some songs are more melodic than others, but none are so harsh as to put off power metal fans, though devotees of more aggressive metal will no doubt find this too happy for them.
The CD package is really lavish, with a fine cover by famed Tolkien artist Ted Nasmith and really good art design. The band photos are a hoot, as they have been made up and costumed like hobbits, orcs, ents and sundry other middle-earth beasties. If the makeup and photography were bad they would be embarrassing, but actually a lot of work seems to have been put into them. The lyrics are included, and they are of the expected Lord of the Rings-fixated variety. Not bad for that though.
This could so easily have been really awful, but with great songwriting and singable hooks this band took a bad idea and made a great album. Melodic enough to appeal to power metal fans without sacrificing heaviness, "Sword's Song" is a highly enjoyable CD from a band with their own unique sound, and I will be highly anticipating more work from these guys (and girls). Never before have people in pointy ears rocked so hard.
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